Thursday, March 27, 2014
Video highlighting the results and interests of our mobile consumer research.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
An article that I recently published in Mobilize Magazine
A World of Wi-Fi OpportunitiesNew research reveals substantial business opportunity within Wi-Fi services.
Cisco recently conducted an online survey of 620 U.S. mobile users to better understand their needs and behaviors, current and future use of public hotspots, and unmet demands. The results were clear:
· Consumers increasingly rely on and prefer Wi-Fi for connecting their devices to the Internet. In fact, the Cisco research reveals that the average smartphone user employs Wi-Fi 44 percent of the time. This is a significant increase from just one year ago, when one-third of the total smartphone data usage was through a Wi-Fi connection, rather than a mobile network.
· A remarkable 70 percent of mobile users are now using public Wi-Fi hotspots. According to the survey, close to six out of ten public Wi-Fi users now connect to a hotspot at least weekly, and one-third connect more than once a week. Users spend an average of 44 minutes connected to these hotspots.
What does this mean for consumer-focused companies, service providers, and other businesses? Opportunity. And lots of it.
“Many innovative companies are discovering new ways to make money by unlocking the inherent business value of Wi-Fi,” says Stuart Taylor, Director of the Service Provider Transformation Group at Cisco. “They can create localized and personalized mobile services, for example, which improve the customer experience and provide a vast amount of business intelligence.”
Taylor highlights three business models that are ripe with opportunity:
1. Enhanced Retail Experience. Imagine a service that would enhance your in-store retail shopping experience on your own Wi-Fi-enabled mobile device at a large retailer. The service could include such things as product information, an in-store location finder, integrated shopping lists, coupons for special offers, and automated checkout.
2. Enhanced Airport Experience. Imagine a service that would enhance your experience when you are in an airport. The service could include such things as airport information, mobile check-in, maps and directions, coupons for special offers at shops and food outlets, and flight and gate alerts.
3. Enhanced Public Venue Experience. Imagine a service that would enhance your experience on your own Wi-Fi-enabled mobile device while you were in a large public venue, such as a shopping mall, amusement park, sports stadium, or resort. The service could include such things as venue information, maps and directions, coupons for special offers at shops and food outlets, and information on upcoming events.
The Cisco research reveals consumers are eager to embrace such services to enhance their experiences in retail locations, airports, hotels and resorts, stadiums, and shopping malls. And while many consumers are concerned about who will have access to their data and how it will be used, most recognize that they will have to relinquish some of their personal information to get a better mobile experience.
Taylor offers several pieces of advice for businesses seeking to capitalize on the emerging prospects of Wi-Fi services:
· Actively pursue new Wi-Fi monetization opportunities. Develop new offers that enhance the customer experience and deliver new sources of revenue.
· Take advantage of technical and business capabilities. Combine the inherent capabilities of Wi-Fi with personal metadata and customer relationship management (CRM) data to create compelling new localized offers.
· Develop proactive personal data strategies and communications. Undertake extensive customer research to formulate comprehensive data policies and strategies to allay customers’ concerns.
· Actively communicate privacy policies. Make customers aware of privacy policies and the value delivered from the localized services.
“If your business isn’t providing Wi-Fi access to customers then it better be the number one item on your agenda,” Taylor suggests. “Customers expect it now almost everyplace they do business, and if they don’t find it they are voting with their feet.”
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
I have just returned from a very interesting and jammed-packed week at Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona. More than 75,000 people were estimated to have attended this year’s MWC, and its fabulous new conference facilities proved a great place to celebrate the industry’s accomplishments and catch a glimpse of its potential future. Much has changed in the industry over the last year since I reported my observations of MWC 2013. However, what is most remarkable is how the boundaries of mobility continue to expand and morph – everything now seems to be mobile?
The following are my personal observations and extrapolations from the show, based on my conversations with operators, customer meetings, analysts, and colleagues, as well as from simply walking the show floor.
1. Awaiting the Next New Technology—Like last year, there was no big “buzz” technology pervading the show. At previous shows everyone was talking about LTE (Long Term Evolution) as the latest mobile network technology. This year it was virtually impossible to see those letters anywhere, and they didn’t seem to be on the tip of anyone’s tongue. Though many countries in the world still lack 4G coverage and many others are just beginning to deploy LTE, the industry seems to have moved on but doesn’t yet know what the next new, shiny network technology will be.
2. Next Generation Mobile Monetization — Mark Zukerberg’s keynote address and Facebook’s $19 B acquisition of WhatsAp made clear what MNOs already know – their business model is changing rapidly. The decline in voice traffic, loss of messaging and competition to their data business from over the top providers and alternative access networks such as Wi-Fi, means that they desperately need to find new ways to make money. Hence, there was a big focus on what that next wave of monetization looks like with everything from mobile cloud, network enhanced services and new solutions and services on display.
3. Building the New Mobile – With the near ubiquity of Wi-Fi enabled devices, Wi-Fi access in homes and offices and the growth of public Wi-Fi, non-traditional mobile operators are exploring how they can create a “Wi-Fi Max-Mobile Min” mobile service. Cable companies and other fixed line providers are asking if they can extend their voice and video offerings outside of the home and office, by anchoring the Internet connectivity with Wi-Fi access. To avoid costly network builds and spectrum purchases, they would fill the 10-20% of the time that the user cannot access Wi-Fi by purchasing mobile connectivity from a MNO.
4. Small Cells 2.0, From Legitimacy to Money Maker — Wi-Fi is now accepted as an integral part of the mobile network architecture. Beyond delivering in-building coverage and offload relief, Wi-Fi is beginning to deliver alternative monetization opportunities. For example, sophisticated location-based, Wi-Fi-enabled solutions that enhance the users experience and deliver benefits to the company’s bottom-line. Operators are now seeking the same advanced monetization opportunities from licensed small cells.
5. Virtualize Everything — Virtualization and the cloud have finally hit the core mobile network elements. A number of vendors, including Cisco, announced that they have virtualized many of the EPC (Evolved Packet Core) components. Not only will this make it less expensive for operators to build networks, but will provide them with much greater flexibility and responsiveness and allow the mobile network to extend well beyond the boundaries of the traditional mobile network.
6. SPs Manning the Booths, Turning the Tables — At one time, service providers were the kings of the show, being courted by vendors and other companies looking to sell them their mobile products and services. The tables seemed to have turned somewhat. I was surprised by the number of prominent service providers from around the world who had their own large and prominent booths. Now, it seems that SPs are keen to show off and sell their latest applications, cloud services, gaming and other innovative mobile offerings. These services are seen as new revenue-generating opportunities that will hopefully deliver the next wave of monetization opportunities
7. Bigger and Better — Not so long ago mobile devices kept striving to keep getting smaller and more compact, whereas their TV cousins were all about getting bigger and brighter. As the smartphone market starts to mature, device manufacturers are trying to bring the TV to our hand by creating larger devices. The tablet and phone are merging to create the “phablet” - devices with a 6 to 7 inch screen that were on display at every manufactures’ booth. Equally, the smartphone is getting bigger with Samsung launching the 5.1 inch S5 and LG’s 5.2 inch G2, almost a full inch larger than the original models.
8. From M2M to the Internet of Everything — Pervasive, fast, mobile connectivity is finally creating a real market, not just for machine-to-machine but for everything that can be connected wirelessly. As at the Consumer Electronics Show, connected devices such as wearables, appliances, home automation and cars were everywhere. With the prevalence of things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, sensors and big data it seems like we are finally at the dawn of a new world where all animated and inanimate objects are connected.
9. Making Cities Smarter — When the Internet of Things, mobility and cities all collide good things begin to happen. Barcelona is actually one of the best places to see the future of cities. Its smart city initiatives not only greatly reduce costs and improve efficiencies, but improve the quality of life for its citizens. I personally spent considerable time touring the city with customers to show how Barcelona is deploying such things as smart bus stops, parking, garbage collection, lighting, and providing municipal information to create the world’s leading smart city.
10. Enterprise Mobility, the Next Phase— Most companies are beginning to embrace bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies to allow employees to use their own mobile devices for business. Many vendors are helping this trend along through better device management, security, and dual-persona solutions. A number of innovative companies, consultancies and service providers are now developing unique solutions to take enterprise mobility to the next phase—beginning to truly transform businesses and industries using mobility.
11. Security — While security has always been paramount in mobility, it seems like a couple of three letter acronyms (IoT and NSA) are escalating its importance. For the Internet of Things to really take off people have to be certain that their car’s operating system, home sensors or information collected about their personal health is absolutely secure. One of the most interesting devices launched at MWC, the Blackphone, is designed to protect users from unauthorized surveillance. Presumably, in response to government spying controversies.
12. Mobile Money, Again, Again, and Again—The last point that I always seem to make on these reviews of MWC is on mobile payments. Once again, mobile payment solutions from banks, credit-card companies, MNOs and other providers were all competing to create a wallet-less world. But, once again, that still seems to be some distant future world. While there were lots of interesting technologies and solutions on display and evidence ofsome consumer adoption, I think that we still have a long way to go and I suspect that I will be reporting on the future promise of mobile payments yet again next year.
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